It can be hard to find a good church, have you noticed? When I say church, I don’t necessarily mean the classic definition, I mean a body of believers that support and encourage one another. Depending on where you are in the world your options may be limited. Depending on what city you’re in in the USA, you may not have a church preaching the Gospel near you.
Given whatever limiting factors you may face, I still want to encourage you to make every effort to plug into a body of believers that put love for one another before the accomplishment of a vision. Having a vision is good, especially when it’s pursued by a community of believers that are united in their love for one another.
I write about and speak on this subject a lot, it’s a big deal to me. Jesus said the world would know we follow him by our love for one another (John 13:35) and they would believe that God sent Jesus to save them if believers were unified in that love (John 17:23). One of the best ways to cultivate and nurture that unity is in community.
Whether it’s 5 or 5000, regularly gathering with a group of believers to worship, pray, hear the word, be encouraged and support one another is what binds hearts together. We all know “churches” aren’t perfect, we all know they can be places where self-serving and controlling folks misuse their positions of “leadership” and hurt people, maybe you’ve been hurt in an environment like that.
That doesn’t mean we forsake assembling with one another, it just means we need to do better. Believers need to transcend the hurt and control and unite in love. Stop going to the abusive churches because your kids like it or they have miracles and find a loving community.
You’re going to need it one day, trust me. If you don’t need it, someone within your community will need you.
We’ve had a tough few months here at Forward Church. A dear sister in our community passed in mid-January. We are heart-broken for her wonderful family. Cheryl was a pillar in our church, she and Donald loved well. While our heart breaks for Donald, we know he’ll continue on and fulfill his call to see the power of God work through him on the behalf of others.
But their family needed us in the process. Cheryl was sick for months and the amount of love that was poured out in the process was inspiring. It was a sad outcome but our unity, support and love for one another has touched our community. One night in the hospital, the night before she passed, there were over 20 people there from our church. I looked around the waiting room and just called everyone into a circle to pray. We prayed, worshiped, wept, and hugged. Apparently, our hearts for Cheryl and one another touched the folks in that hospital.
The staff and other folks that were nearby shared the story all over the hospital, it even spilled into the community. I say this not to brag on our church, I say this as an illustration for how encouraging a loving community can be for you and your family.
The funeral was another opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. While it was a heart-breaking reason, some of our worship team ministered at Cheryl’s funeral and blessed the folks in attendance. People said things like; “I’ve never left a funeral feeling encouraged,” and “that felt like a revival, not a funeral.” I was proud that we were able to be a blessing to a grieving community through cooperation of the Brandenburg family.
While our friend, family member, mom and wife is no longer with us, we have each another. We have a hope of uniting again with her in eternity in Christ. And until that day, we get to be the hands and feet of Jesus for one another as that connection spills onto others around us.
I pray you have this. I pray you are able to connect in a support system, a community of believers, a family…because you need them and they need you.
This is my sermon the day after Cheryl’s funeral, I pray it’s a blessing to you.